The first half of the 2011 regular season is over.
It goes quickly, doesn't it? Pretty soon we'll be putting together our playoff section.
Which, from the looks of things, could have plenty of teams in it.
As I write this, there are six teams in our coverage area with one loss or less. Columbian and Hopewell-Loudon are undefeated. Calvert was undefeated until it lost to Carey Saturday night.
It's been an exciting start.
The finish probably will be better. It's great for the fans and students, great for the area, and great for us.
I've been here seven years, and I don't remember a year with so many potential playoff teams.
On Friday night, I was in Attica, and watched Seneca East destroy North Baltimore, 41-6. This was while getting texts telling me that Hopewell-Loudon, Buckeye Central and TC were all winning.
In the preseason, I talked to Seneca East coach Ed Phillips about how wide open the Midland Athletic League was. It seemed then that at least four or five teams would contend for the league title.
But did anyone see two MAL schools being highly ranked in The Associated Press polls? Or two other teams (Carey and Seneca East) getting votes in their respective divisions?
Phillips is a great interview who has answered every question I've ever put to him. But when I brought up that his team was 4-1 and, for the first time in a number of years, could start thinking about being a playoff contender, he stopped me.
Like most coaches, Phillips wants his team to focus on the week ahead. It makes sense, too, because at the halfway point, there still is plenty that could change.
"The MAL is tougher than heck," Phillips said. "I think you take any of the top teams in the league, and put them in some other leagues around here, and you'd probably have the league champs. We're gonna slug it out with every team in the league and see where we stand at the end."
If you look away from the MAL, you'll still see some strong teams. You see the Tornadoes, 5-0 and about to start their Northern Ohio League schedule. Columbian has been red-hot in the first five weeks. Its overtime win over Mansfield Senior was TC's only game decided by a touchdown or less.
To the east, you have the North Central Conference's Buckeye Central. Tyler Erwin threw for 400 yards in Friday's 41-6 win over Riverdale, and after a loss to perennial champion Wynford, the Bucks still have an opportunity for a strong second half and a second-consecutive playoff berth.
Still, the best part of all this is the future, since Calvert, Seneca East and Carey still have to tangle with H-L. Columbian will have its first meeting in decades with Sandusky, and Buckeye Central will have to deal with traditionally strong schools like Ontario.
What does this all mean? Well, it means I may have to apologize to the superstitious for my optimism.
The start of the season has seen schools emerge to the point where their games are must-see. The end of the season will see if that translates into deep November drives.
Five weeks left.